If you have read this blog for a while you may have noticed that I have lots of philosophies and theories on how our bodies and minds work. Sometimes these are not in line with traditional psychology. For my day to day living and for those dealing with the normal ups and downs of life then these times of models work really well.
When I pop my clinical work hat back on my own thoughts and life ideas get put aside slightly, (depending on the setting in which I work I suppose) and there is one aspect that I think is very important in psychiatry and the management of illness and psychological wellbeing and that is medication.
As a psychologist we are defined as different from a psychiatrist with the role of prescribing medication. During my degree and when finishing I was quite happy to reinforce this difference as I naively felt that talking therapy was enough and I wouldn’t come into contact with those that needed medication.
Thankfully I was blessed with my first job being in a community psychiatric setting whereby I had fantastic teachers and colleagues who provided informed and evidence based knowledge and practice supporting the need for a biopsychosocial model of treatment.
The definition for biopsychosocial is such “The biological component of the biopsychosocial model seeks to understand how the cause of the illness stems from the functioning of the individual’s body. The psychological component of the biopsychosocial model looks for potential psychological causes for a health problem such lack of self-control, emotional turmoil, and negative thinking. The social part of the biopsychosocial model investigates how different social factors such as socioeconomic status, culture, poverty, technology, and religion can influence health” ~ Wikipedia
Medication has an important place in treatment although it is no more or less important that the psychological aspects and the social factors.
Let me point out that I am not supporting mindless dispensation for just any psychological condition. What is important in my opinion is that we are aware of the biological and chemical imbalances that cause certain mental illnesses. These conditions are about balancing. Like a see-saw. The right amount of medication to provide stabilisation and remission of symptoms yet as little as possible to prevent overloading the body which in turn can produce a myriad of side effects.
In other situations I think that medication is important but that it be used as a tool, just like the psychological strategies. I used to provide the analogy to clients that in some cases medication should be used as the step ladder. Particularly when one is feeling at the bottom of the hole and doesn’t know how to get out. They can see the light all the way at the top yet ever getting there feels like a dream. Therefore the medication can give us a boost and we can have the strength to climb out. If we find ourselves in the hole too many times it may be that the step ladder actually turns into a cushion and stops the hole being as deep.
As mentioned, of equal importance are the parts that the psychological and sociological factors also play along side medication. As elaborated further,
“a growing body of empirical literature suggests that patient perceptions of health and threat of disease, as well as barriers in a patient’s social or cultural environment, appear to influence the likelihood that a patient will engage in health-promoting or treatment behaviors, such as medication taking, proper diet or nutrition, and engaging in physical activity” ~ Wikipedia.
What is imperative in all psychiatric and psychological consultations is a supportive and therapeutic relationship with the treating team. In addition this treating team should have excellent communication, with the client but also between themselves.
Athough none of this comes near the most important component of care in mental health and that is listening to thy self. If you are not in a position to make these decisions to listen within. Then ensure your advocate is connected and understands your beliefs.
Answers are within ~ Om Mani Padme Hum
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